Sunday, October 22 was a beautiful day, as the sun shone down on MAAV’s 22nd Annual Walk & Candlelight Vigil. An estimated 800 people attended the event, the largest-ever turnout for MAAV’s largest annual fundraiser. The great turnout was fitting given this year’s theme, “You Are Not Alone.” This message was chosen to convey that Melrose is a community where victims of bullying and abuse are believed and supported.

The emotional day began with the presentation of MAAV’s 7th Annual Advocacy in Action Award to Malcolm Astley, in recognition of all that he has done to prevent teen dating abuse. Mr. Astley’s daughter Lauren was murdered in 2011 in Wayland by her ex-boyfriend, shortly after her high school graduation. Since then, Mr. Astley has dedicated himself to educating teens about the dangers of unhealthy relationships and has worked tirelessly to bring this education to students across the Commonwealth. His emotional address to the crowd honored Lauren’s memory. We then honored nineteen victims of domestic violence homicide from across the Commonwealth, lighting a candle for each one.

The 800 walkers then hit the streets of Melrose, walking a two-mile loop around the city as a reminder that we must rededicate ourselves to preventing violence in the community.

The event raised more than $49,000 for MAAV’s programs and services, making it our largest fundraiser ever. Thank you to all who attended, made a donation or served as an event sponsor! We couldn’t do this without you!!